How BC’s Stars Have Performed at the Last Three NFL Combines
Friday marked the beginning of Pro Day season and, this year, the NFL Combine. Because of the pandemic, the weeklong event in Indianapolis was tabled for the first time in 34 years. Instead, the 323 invitees will participate in drills and workouts at their respective Pro Days.
Boston College tight end Hunter Long and linebacker Isaiah McDuffie are part of that group.
It’s a different feel and nowhere close to as dramatized as the February showcase that features the most highly-touted prospects all in one place with around the clock analysis.
In lieu of a traditional Combine, let’s look back at the last three and how BC’s invitees fared.
2020 - 1 participant
RB AJ Dillon: The program’s all-time leading rusher made his presence known at last year’s Combine. After weighing in as the heaviest back (247 pounds) at the event, he logged a 41-inch vertical, the best of any participating tailback. It was the first time since 2000 that a running back over 235 pounds notched a vertical of at least 40 inches, according to ProFootballReference. To add some more perspective, former Penn State superstar Saquon Barkley registered a 41-inch vertical of his own in 2018. But the future No. 2 overall pick was 14 pounds lighter than Dillon.
What made Dillon’s vertical all the more impressive was the fact that he called it two years earlier. He had receipts, too. Following his ACC Rookie of the Year campaign, Dillon tweeted that he would turn in a 41-inch vertical. He did, however, fall short of his self-projected 40 time. Only by six hundredths of a second, though. Dillon ran a 4.53, good for 10th among participating running backs.
The 6-foot, New London, Connecticut, native also led the position group in the broad jump, out-leaping every other back by at least three inches. He became just the fourth running back since 2006 to record a 41-inch vertical and 131-inch broad jump in the Combine. The Green Bay Packers liked what they saw and grabbed Dillon with the 62nd overall pick in the second round. Dillon was BC’s highest-selected offensive skill player since quarterback Matt Ryan in 2008.
2019 - 7 participants
Note: BC sent a program-record seven players to Lucas Oil Stadium for the 2019 Combine. Clemson was the only ACC team to have more prospects book a trip to Indianapolis that year.
OG Chris Lindstrom: Chris Lindstrom probably played his way into the first round at the Senior Bowl, and he cemented his place during the Combine. Lindstrom ran a 4.91 40, the second-fastest time of any participating offensive lineman in 2019. He was just one of four O-Linemen at the event to come in under five seconds. Lindstrom ended up being the first Eagle picked on Day One since Luke Kuechly in 2012.
DE Zach Allen: At one point a projected first-round selection, Zach Allen took a hit after a rough Senior Bowl. His stock didn’t necessarily rise at the Combine, either. Allen ran five-second 40, but his 1.65 10-yard split was a better representation of his athleticism, as was his 7.34 second three-cone drill time. The quick D-Lineman’s tape was more reflective of his play than his measurables. The Arizona Cardinals had him high up on their board and gladly took the 6-foot-4 Allen with the 65th pick in the third round.
S Will Harris: Throughout his four-year BC career, Will Harris developed the reputation as one of the hardest-hitting safeties in the ACC. But, at the Combine, his wheels were the topic of discussion. Harris flashed a 4.41 40, ranking fourth among safeties in that regard. His split was at least a 10th of a second faster than each of the previous four BC defensive backs taken in the draft. Harris also put up 20 reps on the bench and clocked out in the top five for both the three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle. The Detroit Lions called his name with the 81st overall pick in the third round.
.@jwillofficial_’s Ranking Among NFL Combine Participating Safeties:— Andy Backstrom (@andybackstrom) March 4, 2019
Bench Press: 20 Reps (T-3rd)
40-Yard Dash: 4.41 (4th)
Here’s how Harris stacks up against some of BC’s past NFL draftees:
W. Harris 4.41
I. Yiadom 4.52
J. Johnson 4.61
J. Simmons 4.61pic.twitter.com/7G6StfqFEI
TE Tommy Sweeney: Tommy Sweeney ran a 4.83, which was 13th among participating tight ends. That said, the sure-handed tight end proved his worth during the on-field workout portion of the day. He had a good run in the gauntlet drill, aside from a few body catches. And, perhaps most importantly, Sweeney exhibited inline blocking skill, lifting his hips in the process. He ultimately became the first BC tight end selected in the draft since Sean Ryan in 2004. The Buffalo Bills snagged him in the seventh round.
DE Wyatt Ray: Wyatt Ray was a bit slow out of the blocks on both of his 40-yard dash attempts, and the defensive end finished with a 4.83, outside the top 15 for edge rushers. But Ray, who was coming off a nine-sack season, more than held his own during the on-field workouts. The Boca Raton, Florida, native displayed his pass rushing power around the bags as well as his ability to drop back in coverage. Ray went undrafted yet was signed by the Cleveland Browns. He then floated from practice squad to practice squad before getting a chance with the Tennessee Titans this past season.
CB Hamp Cheevers: The odds were already stacked against Hamp Cheevers, a one-year starting cornerback who measured in at 5-foot-9, 169 pounds. He needed to be fast. Real fast. Instead, Cheevers ran a 4.52, raising serious concerns about his NFL future. As expected, Cheevers demonstrated his ball skills in the on-field drills. He picked off seven passes in 2018, and, of his nine career interceptions, four went for returns for 23 or more yards. His ball hawking expertise wasn’t enough to land him a spot on a 53-man roster, though. An UDFA, Cheevers bounced around in the preseason with the Titans, Raiders, and Falcons. He eventually signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in January 2020.
S Lukas Denis: Similar to Cheevers, Denis attracted attention because of his nose for the ball (had seven interceptions in 2017, tied for the most in the country at the end of the regular season). They both struggled in the 40, with Denis coming in at 4.64 and ranking outside the top 15 for safeties. He made up ground, however, in the 20-yard shuttle and three-cone, finishing third and fourth, respectively, in those drills. Despite being NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks’ fifth-rated safety at the time, Denis went undrafted. Although he signed with Tampa Bay, he didn't make the 53-man roster.
2018 - 3 participants
DE Harold Landry: Heading into the 2017 season, many projected Harold Landry to be a top-10 pick. But a nagging ankle injury hampered his performance and sidelined him for four games. Landry took a step back from his nation-leading 16.5 sacks the season prior. He reminded everyone why he was one of the best pass rushing prospects at the Combine, though. Landry showed quickness out of his stance and impressive bend off the edge. He ran a 6.88-second three-cone, which put him in play to join some elite company. Back then, according to PFF, here was the list of first-round, 250-plus pound D-Linemen with a sub-6.9 three-cone: DeMarcus Ware, JJ Watt, David Pollack, Melvin Ingram, Joey Bosa, and TJ Watt. Yet Landry didn’t go on Day One. He fell to the Titans with the 41st overall pick in the second round.
CB Isaac Yiadom: Isaac Yiadom used a breakout senior season—in which he recorded 53 total tackles, picked off two passes, and broke up seven more—and a great week at the Senior Bowl to build momentum coming into the Combine. He was decent in Indianapolis, running a 4.52 40 and a 4.18 20-yard shuttle. His stock had risen more for his physicality in jamming receivers off the line. The Denver Broncos completed his draft journey, selecting the corner with the second-to-last pick of the third round.
CB Kamrin Moore: Kamrin Moore, a fiery cornerback who notched a career-high 50 total tackles and nine pass break-ups in 2017 despite missing the last three games of the year with a shoulder injury, came into the Combine with some questions surrounding his man-to-man cover skills. But because he was still recovering from the injury, Moore didn’t participate in any drills or on-field workouts. That said, he did have informal meetings with four teams, including the Cincinnati Bengals. The 5-foot-10 Moore ended up filling in the measurables at BC’s Pro Day, running a 4.55 40 and a 4.43 20-yard shuttle. He was drafted by the Saints in the sixth round, becoming the Eagles’ fourth defensive back picked from 2016-18.